Over at the MOV, we've been excitedly welcoming the cherry blossoms all over the city (seriously, so excited). And with the arrival of these new buds, there are a whole host of other fresh starts and new beginnings in Vancouver. This week check in with Vancouver's new proposed digital strategy, the start of greener garbage collection, and something that seems like an end, but what we hope will blossom as a new future possibility: the retirement of advocate for the homeless, Judy Graves.
Born Digital. On April 9, City Council met to discuss Vancouver's first ever digital strategy that, if adopted, would mean a huge shift in how the city processes licenses and permits as well as a significant expansion in the availability of free wi-fi. Sounds pretty good, but are there any concerns? Of course. Nikolas Badminton over at the Huffington Post blog suggests the strategy doesn't do enough: "I feel it is a safe governmental play that drags us to be where we should be right now in 2013, but with full implementation not until 2016. At that point we'll be four years behind."
We've all heard certain stereotypes used to describe Vancouver before (Vancouverites = yoga-fanatic, organic juice-guzzlers). But as is the nature of cliches, while they may contain a kernel of truth, they also ignore a deeply layered lived experience that is not so easily summed up in buzzwords and cute expressions. In MOVments this week we're looking at the city through the lens of a few well-worn adages and in the process deconstructing and complicating some of our civic assumptions.
Vancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.
Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.
Video Stores Live. With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.
Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."
Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.
The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.
At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers
[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]
Picnurbia is a pop-up installation of picnic benches and artificial turf at Robson Square as part of VIVA Vancouver. Perhaps installations like this can help us re-evaluate the way we think about public space.
Homelessness. The city's new housing plan reveals that five neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside will be targeted for the construction of homeless shelters and supportive housing.
Renting. The Tyee's Reporting Fellowships are turning out some good stories: this week an in depth series about renovictions and affordable rental housing in Vancouver. Catch them all here.
Humanitarian architecture. Two Vancouver-based architects are recycling the fabric from the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre's old sail roof into projects for Architecture for Humanity.
Community awards. The City of Surrey has launched the City Awards Program, a variety of awards to recognize people for community spirit, clean energy, urban design and beautification.
Cycling infrastructure. Another update on the Coal Harbour seawall connection: it still sucks for cyclists. A little further down the seawall, installing consistent signage and adequate infrastructure for cyclists at Stanley Park doesn't seem to be a high priority either.
Just who are bike thieves anyway? The Dependent talks to bike thieves and learns about the tools of the trade.
Earthquake preparedness. An engineering report has found that both City Hall and it's data are vulnerable in the event of a major earthquake.
Data mapping. The Vancouver Sun has created a series of interactive maps with data from the 2006 census.
The road not taken. Forty years ago Vancouver and Hamilton shared many similarities. Nicholas Kevlahan takes a detailed look at how they diverged.
Bike lanes. A new study about the impact of the bike lanes on business finds that while there has been a decrease in business along the routes, losses are not as bad as the figure often cited. At the same time, ridership continues to grow. Gordon Price has a round-up of a lot of the commentary this week.
Housing. The City of Vancouver released an ambitious 10 year plan to end street homelessness, calling for the creation of 38,900 new housing units by 2021.
Viaducts. After much talk and proposals about what to do with the viaducts, the City is looking for public input.
Civic arts. Councillor Heather Deal wants to create a central committee to oversee the city's 2008 cultural plan. Currently there are multiple smaller committees working on different aspects related to culture but communication is an issue.
Clarifying transit. An Emily Carr grad has redesigned the Metro Vancouver transit map to make it clearer and easier on the eye and more like the London tube map.
Drinking and driving. With the tightening of drinking and driving laws, some are asking why Vancouver still requires bars to provide so much parking space. Could that space be used for something else?
Hidden floors. Scout looks at the so-called "cheater storeys" in Chinatown's architecture.
Fading history. Open File looks at efforts to document and preserve faded "ghost signs" in Vancouver and reveals that often nothing is done. So make sure you photograph your favourites!
Riot aftermath. WorkSafeBC is now receiving claims of post-traumatic stress from people working during the riots.
Gordon Price asks whether the City should be spending money to promote professional sports like hockey over other arts and cultural events, and who benefits.
The Bulkhead Project is an open, food-producing garden on False Creek.
Image: framestealer, via flickr
Homelessness. The numbers are in. Initial results from the 2011 homelessness count indicate that street homelessness is down in Vancouver, though there has not been a change across the Metro Vancouver region overall. This is causing some to question whether or not the massive investment in dealing with homelessness over the past three years has had an effect.
The results do however suggest that low-barrier shelters are having an impact and are seeing a higher level of use. While First Nations people still make up a disproportionately high proportion of homeless, the number of First Nations people who are homeless appears to be dropping. Youth are better represented in this year’s count, though it’s hard to say if this is due to an increase in homelessness among youth or a more accurate count.
What will be the future of the Hornby bike lane? Researchers are in the process of studying it’s impacts on the local community. Geoff Meggs says the City did not do a good enough job of communicating the need for cycling infrastructure to Vancouverites.
U-Pass. Translink is threatening to discontinue the U-Pass program if it continues to lose money to U-Pass theft and fraud. But Stephen Rees reminds us that the U-Pass program was never sustainable in the first place.
Hockey riot. As we head toward the Stanley Cup finals, the Tyee presents an alternative view on the 1994 hockey riot and how we became the ‘no fun city.’
Affordability. Bob Rennie says Vancouver really isn’t that unaffordable if you ignore the prices at the top fifth of the market.
Image: chris.huggins via flickr